January 10, 2008

Proposed Energy Corridors Threaten 1000 Acres of California Public Lands

Public Meeting Scheduled for January 10 in Ontario, CA


Denver (January 10, 2008) - The Mojave National Preserve, the California Desert Conservation Area, and the Pacific Crest, California, and Old Spanish trails could all be home to gas, oil and hydrogen pipelines and electric transmission facilities if the Department of Energy's plan to designate energy corridors though public land in 11 Western states moves ahead. Proposed corridors would also cut through or run along the border of many areas proposed for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

"Although the Energy Department has made significant improvements in their proposed corridor designations, the proposed corridors still lack thorough consideration of the likely damage to federal lands and other places," said The Wilderness Society's Nada Culver, who has tracked the process since it began. "The proposal would have stark impacts for California's special places. Here and elsewhere, the Energy Department needs to come up with alternatives to minimize the number of corridors and maximize use of renewable energy, and it should include firm requirements to limit all projects to designated corridors."

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Interior are conducting a series of public meetings in January and February on the West-wide Energy Corridor Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). The first California meetings were Tuesday in Sacramento and the next will be tomorrow (Thursday, January 10) in Ontario CA at 2-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

"This proposal threatens to undermine years of conservation efforts to protect the California Desert Conservation Area and other wild places throughout the state," said Brent Schoradt of the California Wilderness Coalition. "The draft plan fails to provide conservation guidelines or protection for California's treasured wild places."

The November 2007 "West-wide Energy Corridor Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement" (DPEIS) was issued by the Departments of Energy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense as outlined in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The plan proposes more than 6,000 miles of energy corridors through public land in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Unless otherwise specified, the corridors would have a width of 3,500 feet (2/3 of a mile).

The agencies' west-wide proposed plan threatens to carve huge habitat-fragmenting corridors through hundreds of thousands of acres of public land, including national recreation areas, monuments, wildlife refuges, and more. The corridors are planned to "accommodate multiple pipelines (such as for oil, gas, or hydrogen), electricity transmission lines, and related infrastructure, such as access and maintenance roads, compressors, pumping stations, and other structures." Once these corridors are designated, energy companies will then push to "connect the dots" between far-flung segments of public land over thousands of miles of private and state lands, such as state parks and wildlife areas.

Public Meetings
January 10 at 2-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.
Ayres Hotel & Suites
1945 East Hold Blvd.
Ontario CA

Source: The Wilderness Society